In 2003, while first doing research for From Devastation To Beauty – The Creation Of The Butchart Gardens, I visited the town of Lakefield, Ontario, where Robert Butchart, George Stirke Kilbourn, John M. Kilbourn, Francis Kilbourn, Horace B. Smith and William Henry Eugene Bravender created the Lakefield Portland Cement Company in 1900.
Despite the importance of the Lakefield Portland Cement Company, and its successor, the Canada Cement Company, in the Town of Lakefield’s history, only a few traces of the company remained. The most obvious was the abandoned Canada Cement Company plant near the shore of the Otonabee River. [Note: The Canada Cement Company plant in Lakefield was demolished in 2010.]
Most of the other remaining Lakefield Portland Cement Company sites were ignored or forgotten.
Along the bank of the Otonabee River, near the site of the abandoned Canada Cement Company plant, I came across one small building belonging to the original Lakefield Portland Cement Company. Nobody in Lakefield seemed to realize what the building was or recognize its historical significance.
The building was originally a pump house. Built in 1907, it contained pumps which moved water from the Otonabee River to the cement factory, about 100 meters from the river.
On one of the building’s exterior walls are the characters “LPCCo. 1907” written into a concrete block below a concrete cast of a lion’s head. These are the only remaining evidence of the building’s origin. The letters “LPCCo.” stand for Lakefield Portland Cement Company; 1907 is the year the building was constructed.
The significance of the lion’s head is not readily apparent unless one knows a little of the Lakefield Portland Cement Company’s history. The brand name of the company’s cement was “Monarch Brand”; the Monarch Branch logo was a lion’s head. This can be seen in the Lakefield Portland Cement Company letterhead below:
The Town of Lakefield seems to have completely overlooked the historical importance of this Lakefield Portland Cement Company pump house. There are no plaques or markers explaining the building origins and history. Given the cement company’s importance in the town’s history, this is a major oversight. Personally, I would like to see the pump house designated as a local or provincial Heritage Building. Hopefully, the Town of Lakefield or the Province of Ontario will take steps to preserve and protect it.
One other nearby structure, directly across the Otonabee River from the concrete pump house, has already been protected by the federal government through its designation as a Canadian Heritage Site. This structure is a concrete lock, built in 1904 as part of the Trent Severn Canal system.
This lock was built in 1904 with cement from the Lakefield Portland Cement Company.
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